Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hard writing makes easy reading. Easy writing makes hard reading.- William Zinsser

Had a lovely day at the William Paterson University Spring Writer's Conference. Alison, Marianne, Yolanda, and I caught up on the way down and breakfast on muffins and donuts in the atruim before registering.

Though the conference focus was of "Writing Childhood" the workshops I choose, did not.

My first workshop was Fiction, with keynote speaker David Means. He had us write a beginning where a character was in the kitchen and you had to get them outside with an item that should be used for something else. (he said it better than that)

If you know me you would be shocked to learn I read mine outloud! This is after the first two who read did not get their character "outside" but into another room. So when he asked if anyone had one that did I raised my hand. With my heart pounding I read what I had scribbled down. Here it is:

In Racheal Ray like fashion, I marched to the fridge and snapped up the ingredients I needed: ketchup, mustard, a package a raw meat. Hmmm, what else? Ahh, yes, red wine vinegar. I dumped it all into a basket and left the sunflower colored kitchen behind. I threw open the door of my soon-to-be exboyfriend's tricked out pickup truck (should have been my first clue). I reached for the ketchup bottle first.

David Means thought it was great how I got my character right out the door. His only suggestion was that I didn't need the soon-to-be-exboyfriend because it was already implied.

But I was proud of myself for reading it out-loud. I was the only romance writer in the room so I was a little intimidated.

Anyway, the purpose of the writing exercise was to show you how to move your character through narrative space. You want to evoke the reader by keeping the reader moving with your character.

Other comments he made were:
Learning to write will get you published. Build it and it will come.
You need to instruct the reader how to see.
You want your reader to enter the dreamscape of the experience.
Studies show the same neurons are fired in your brain whether you read about the experience or are actually doing it.
Study other writers who do it great.

Then I meant up with my group for lunch. Though they had a great spread I chose to with a plain salad and a small roll. Why? Because the was a YUMMY nice sized brownie to be had for dessert.

My last workshop was on Advance Grammar. Oh, how I wanted to take a poetry workshop but I know I am lacking in the grammar department. And you know what? After this course I still am. It leaned more toward essays and teaching sentence structure so it didn't help - except that I found out British writers do not use commas - at least not like US writers - so maybe I should move to England?

After the class we loaded back up into Alison beautiful Lincoln and headed back home while discussing our day - with a stop at Starbucks for ice coffee. Come on - you knew I had to have ice coffee at some point.


  1. Welcome back, Liz! Thanks for sharing what you learned. I love what you wrote for you class....very creative.

  2. I love what you wrote, reminded me of a country song. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Yes, a great day with great company!

  4. Hey, how about you send this to Jen for the newsletter? Maybe with comments from your sidekicks and cohorts?
    Fun reading and sounds like it was a great day.